Relieved to have found an extra gear in her explosive drive for the line, Kirsten McCann was celebrating a historic victory at the weekend after racing to gold in the women’s single sculls final at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida.
Lying third at the halfway mark on Friday night, McCann clawed her way back into contention in the latter stages and tore across the line in 7:38.78, more than two seconds clear of Dutch silver medallist Marieke Keijser.
She became the first South African woman to earn a rowing world title, and the first SA rower to secure a podium place in a singles boat at the global spectacle.
“I had an ideal race plan,” McCann, a former doubles bronze medallist, said afterwards.
“I knew in the last 250m it would be really, really tight, so I am happy to have been able to sprint effectively.”
Paralympic rower Sandra Khumalo was the only other member of the national team to reach an A final at the eight-day regatta, bringing the squad’s campaign to a close yesterday by taking fifth place in the PR1 women’s single sculls.
Earlier in the week, Vaughn Botes and Nicholas Oberholzer finished sixth in the lightweight men’s double sculls B final to grab 12th spot overall in their discipline.
Though they had been touted as medal contenders in the buildup to the showpiece, the men’s four crew of John Smith, Lawrence Brittain, Jake Green and David Hunt settled for a convincing victory in the C final to take 13th position in their event.
Also relegated to the third-tier final, South Africa’s men’s pair of Leo Victor Davis and teenager Sandro Torrente took second position, earning 14th spot in the standings.
Turning out in perhaps the most competitive discipline, 21-year-old Kyle Schoonbee ended third in the men’s single sculls C final for 15th spot overall.